Microsoft embracing hackers from the start? It appears that Microsoft is inviting iPhone and PS3 hacker Geohot to get creative with Windows Phone 7.
Geohot aka George Hotz became famous for hacking Apple iDevices; he worked with others to jailbreak the iPhone. Recently, Sony sued Hotz for jailbreaking the PS3. The PlayStation 3 hack allowed software not approved by Sony, such as pirated games, to play on the console. According to Threat Level's David Kravets, the judge delayed ruling on the PS3 lawsuit.
The team that came up with the first jailbreak of Microsoft's Windows Phone 7, Chevron WP7, met with Microsoft WP7 group this last weekend. Engadget reported the meeting went smoothly and Microsoft handed out jailbreak Windows Phone 7 t-shirts. The discussions with the Microsoft Windows Phone 7 team went so well that ChevronWP7 tweeted, "We had very positive and forward-looking meetings with #WP7 folks over last couple days."
After the unpleasant ordeal with Sony, Geohot must have been impressed with how Microsoft dealt with the Chevron WP7 team. Geohot posted on his site, "perhaps a more appropriate way to deal with jailbreakers. I'm going out to buy a Windows 7 phone."
Brandon Watson, Director of Windows Phone 7, made a smart move by tweeting to Geohot. "#geohot if you want to build cool stuff on #wp7, send me email and the team will give you a phone - let dev creativity flourish #wp7dev"
Watson's Twitter profile states he is an "Entrepreneur on loan to Microsoft focused on getting our developer mojo back." By reaching out to Geohot, and the successful meeting with Chevron WP7 group, Watson may help Microsoft get its mojo back. This is an extremely refreshing turn of events since Microsoft has previously not exhibited such a friendly attitude with the hacker community.
Geohot.us wrote that Geohot's decision would "make Microsoft mad," but Microsoft's reaction may surprise many. In the past, Microsoft threatened legal action when open source developers at Adafruit Industries first took on hacking Kinect. The Big M later reversed its "work closely with law enforcement" stance. Microsoft also tried, unsuccessfully, to prosecute Matthew Crippen for Xbox-modding.
The Windows Phone 7 Marketplace is still growing at a fast rate, currently with 6,484 apps. The app-security was cracked with a proof-of-concept program that wasn't released to the public. In that case, as well as others where security researchers have discovered Windows vulnerabilities, hackers have gone public to "force" Microsoft to fix the problems.
Apple and Sony are currently looked upon as the "bad guys" by some. Even though a revised DCMA legislation determined that jailbreaking and unlocking were ruled as legal as long as they were not used to piracy purposes, Apple still wants to crack down on jailbreaking. According to NBC, Apple told the U.S. Copyright Office, "Current jailbreak technologies now in widespread use utilize unauthorized modifications to the copyrighted bootloader and operating system, resulting in the infringement of the copyrights in those programs." The Sony legal team's recent attack on Geohot and fail0verflow about the PS3 did not win the company many, if any, fans.
If Microsoft can continue to be cool like it is with Chevron WP7 and Geohot, some negative public opinion about the company may turn positive.
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Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. Smith has a diverse background in information technology, programming, web development, IT consulting, and information security. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.
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